With as big and busy as the PlayStation Experience was, I decided to spend a lot of my time looking at the booths and kiosks that weren’t as packed. It was because of this that I found what I believe was the biggest surprise at the show. Namely, that Zeboyd Games’ Cosmic Star Heroine had a playable demo at the event. Despite being about halfway through the development processes, with the developer at the point where they have the basic structure and engine build and are working to get the content put together, a sampling of what to expect was there.
Ever since I heard Zeboyd Games’ Kickstarter pitch, talking about how Cosmic Star Heroine would take inspiration from games like Chrono Trigger and Suikoden II, I’ve been excited about the endeavor. I’ve been dying to see more about it, and there it was. True, it was a build running on a PC, but that didn’t matter. It was there in a playable form, with three of the 11 playable party members before me.
The Cosmic Star Heroine demo began with Alyssa and two members of her team, Chahn and Dave, heading to a planet to explore an abandoned facility. The three quickly learn they aren’t the only people there, as a group of terrorists is nearby. Not to mention, the planet is full of hostile, native creatures. It isn’t a good place to be.
Which was evidenced both in the number of hostile creatures roaming around, as well as the forboding ambiance. Cosmic Star Heroine was very clearly channeling Chrono Trigger, with its detailed character sprites and environments, as well as a system where enemies appear on the field and wandering into their range instantly triggers a turn-based battle on the spot.
The actual battle system, however, is totally original and makes a lot of sense. Each character has a number of skills or actions they can use. Alyssa is a standard, balanced character with standard attacks, a water spell, a support ability, and a healing ability. Chahn is a healer and master of gunmancy, summoning guns for attacks. Dave uses lightning spells, but can also hack the environment to help allies/attack enemies and use various support abilities. The thing is, most non-standard abilities can be used once before the character has to recharge. It makes sense, because you wouldn’t be able to spam certain attacks in real life.
Cosmic Star Heroine also relies on “style”. Attacking successfully and other skills boost style, which increases damage output and chance of status effects being inflicted on enemies. Being knocked out depletes style completely, so a big part of battles in even the demo involved boosting character’s style for big rewards. For example, in the boss fight I made frequent use of Alyssa’s Inspiration ability to make her allies’ attacks stronger and Dave’s Grind ability to up his style.
What I really liked about the Cosmic Star Heroine PSX demo, though, was the attention to detail. Even though this was a demo built for the event, Zeboyd Games went out of their way to put personality into it. Early on in the demo, Alyssa and her team discover a bomb that is poisoning the planet. Alyssa wonders if someone could tweak it so it heals, rather than hurts. Dave said good luck finding someone who would willingly do so, working under harsh conditions. It felt like a hint at a future sidequest.
Even the treasure chests had meanings. There was nothing in any of them, given this was a demo where I couldn’t change equipment or use items, but each had a special message. One had Alyssa finding cat ears, which she decided she’d rather not wear. Another was a matryoshka chest, filled with many smaller ones. There was even a chest with a PlayStation Experience flyer in it. It was the little things that added personality and style.
Even the demo’s ending was forboding. Once someone beat the boss, they were treated to a little segment suggesting the encounter wasn’t the end, and found Alyssa separated from her team and on her own. Oh, those cliffhangers!
There was only downside, and it was something Zeboyd Games’ Bill Stiernberg said they would be fixing in the final build. At one point in the demo, a gun could be acquired for Chahn that added a new ability. It also allowed trees to be cut down in the map area to create new paths. The thing is, it wasn’t obvious how it worked outside of battle, and I had to have it pointed out to figure out what I needed to do next. Fortunately, none of you will have to worry about that happening to you.
Before you move on to other articles, let me share two more Cosmic Star Heroine tidbits. First, Zeboyd Games mentioned it would like it to be a cross-buy title, since the game is coming to the PS4 and Vita. Second, the team hopes to have cameos of characters from previous games, like Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII, perhaps even having them as recruitable agents. Keep that in mind, and perhaps let it keep you hyped about what I think could shape up to be Zeboyd’s best game.